There Is No Trip to the Galápagos Without Reading This!

2023-02-16 01:13:25 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

For countless generations, the Galápagos Islands, about 600 miles off Ecuador's coast, were kept as a secret. The archipelago has been a refuge for a diverse array of plant and animal life for that long. The Galápagos Islands began to receive visits from daring buccaneers and explorers in the 1800s. Charles Darwin, a young naturalist, spent 19 days on the islands in 1835, making him the most well-known of the early visitors. On the Origin of Species, Darwin's groundbreaking book that first introduced his theory of evolution and the Galápagos Islands to the world, was published in 1859.

The popularity of these islands and the stories about their stunning scenery have both increased since then. The Galápagos Islands became the first national park in Ecuador in 1959, and they were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1978. More than 275,000 people travel to the Galápagos each year to experience the islands' unique wildlife and breathtaking scenery for themselves.

Inevitably, the Galápagos Islands will be even more incredible than you imagine. A place where lizards swim, birds fly, and humans, for once, play a supporting role

When planning a trip to the Galápagos Islands, the first and most important choice you'll have to make is whether or not to bring a pet along. Do you want to book a hotel room on one of the three populated islands and take day trips to the uninhabited ones? Or, perhaps you'd prefer to hop from island to island while staying on a floating hotel?

When deciding between a land and a sea route, three factors must be taken into account.

  • The Galápagos Islands are known for their high prices. On the other hand, if you stay on dry land, you can easily create a more budget-friendly adventure. You can find a wide range of lodging and dining options on modern-day San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, and -- to a much lesser extent -- Isabela and Floreana. Live-aboard boats can be found at a variety of price points as well. But even the most basic cruise costs more than a land-based holiday.
  • Considerable time will be spent traveling to and from your hotel, boarding a boat, visiting your desired location(s), and finally returning to your land-based vacation home if you select a land-based vacation option. The majority of live-aboard boats' travel occurs at night, when passengers are in their cabins. This means passengers wake up in a new destination ready for a full day of exploration
  • Travelers who opt to explore by foot will have to stick to the five islands that can be covered in a day; those who prefer to travel by boat will miss out on the other, more remote islands.

If you're not afraid of boats, don't get seasick, and don't mind spending a week on a boat, then you should book a cruise. You can see more of the Galápagos Islands in less time and with less wasted movement if you focus on exploring the island chain's many distinct regions.

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The Galápagos Islands also offer some options for scuba divers who are interested in submerging themselves in aquatic adventures. Live-aboard boats like the Galapagos Sky, Galapagos Aggressor III, and Galapagos Master were built with scuba divers in mind. They travel to the northernmost islands of the archipelago, which are rarely visited by tourists, to dive in the deep, cold, current-filled waters there. Be aware that these are intended only for professional divers.

Supply chain management on dry land

The majority of the islands in the Galápagos archipelago are completely uninhabited. However, Santa Cruz Island and San Cristóbal Island have a wide variety of hotels, and numerous boats depart from their respective harbors. A hotel near the harbor (rather than in the highlands) will put you in close proximity to the pier from which day cruises depart.

The Golden Bay Galapagos, with its 19 rooms, can be found right on the harbor of San Cristóbal Island. A small beach where sea lions play is right in front of the property, and a dock where day-trip boats depart is no more than a three-minute stroll away. The corner suite has a bathtub in the living room and glass walls that slide open so you can feel one with the outdoors.

The Angermeyer Waterfront Inn, on the other hand, is located in the heart of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Their newest accommodation is a boat that has been cleverly converted into a room.

To guarantee the highest level of service and the most convenient itineraries, you can also choose to stay at a hotel that has its own fleet of boats. In the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, for instance, you'll find the unrivaled Pikaia Lodge, which has its very own boat for use by its guests on land and sea adventure packages.

Set in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel features its very own yacht, appropriately named the Sea Lion. Unlike most day-trip boats, which have room for only 16 people plus one guide, this one can fit 20 people plus two tour guides. The five islands that visitors on day cruises are permitted to explore are all included in Sea Lion's itineraries.

Transportation and Supply Chain Management via Boat

Most live-aboard cruises are between five and eight days long, and they follow predetermined itineraries. Galápagos National Park officials have established set routes in order to reduce visitor numbers and environmental impact. Your ship will take you on a different route each week, either to the north or south (also known as the east or west). Excellent shore excursions, as well as ample time in the water and the chance to see the Galápagos' renowned flora and fauna, are included in both itineraries.

Consult with your tour operator to determine which month and itinerary will provide the best opportunity to see the Galápagos species of your choosing. Species can only be found on certain islands at certain times of the year, and many others are seasonal. The waved albatross, also known as the Galápagos albatross, is one such species that does not permanently reside on the islands. These birds only appear during the spring and summer months to mate.

The Galápagos Islands have a passenger capacity limit of 100 per boat, though most boats carry far fewer. Traveling on a vessel with a lower passenger capacity has its advantages, including a more personal onboard experience and quicker transfers to and from rubber dinghies. Most boats with a longer history and greater personality are smaller in size. The M/Y Grace, which can carry 18 people, was a wedding present from Aristotle Onassis to Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III. Some say the couple had their daughter Stéphanie while on their honeymoon cruise.

Additionally, Ecoventura is a highly recommended tour operator with multiple vessels that can accommodate up to 20 passengers. In addition, two naturalists lead excursions ashore, where they provide in-depth explanations of the abundant flora and fauna. The eco-friendliness of the boats is becoming increasingly important in a region already feeling the effects of climate change.

In addition, larger-capacity boats typically have more on-board services, including guest lectures and medical facilities, making them ideal for groups of all sizes.

Getty Images/Pete Oxford/Mindful Pictures

A trip to the Galápagos Islands is always a good idea. It doesn't matter what time of year you choose to travel, because each experience will be special and unforgettable.

The months of June through December are the driest and coolest. It's possible to experience a gara (or light, misty rain) even in the dry season, and December is especially at risk. There is a possibility of overcast and gray skies.

The months of January through May are warmer and wetter, but the rain makes for gorgeous clear blue skies in between showers, making for excellent photography conditions.

The hottest and wettest months are March and April, while the coolest month is August.

The strong ocean currents in the archipelago cause the water temperature to fluctuate throughout the year. Water temperature drops and colder currents predominate during the cool and dry summer and winter months of June through December. Snorkeling may be more comfortable in a wet suit (provided by your boat or hotel) during these months. On the bright side, the cold current delivers a bounty of plankton that feeds a wide variety of marine organisms.

To make a reservation in advance

It's possible to find good deals at the last minute if you're a savvy shopper and are willing to wait a few days after your arrival to start looking. Although the Galápagos Islands are a popular vacation spot, visitors are advised to make reservations far in advance. This is especially true for dive boats, which are in short supply and thus frequently reach capacity.

Small shops on both San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz sell necessities, but they are expensive and carry a limited selection. Have the bare minimum on hand, just in case. Examples of this are:

  • High-quality, closed-toe, walking shoes with a sole that can take a beating Even though land excursions are typically brief and the trails are easy, you may occasionally have to traverse sharp volcanic rock or other hazards.
  • Shoes that are suitable for use on land and water, such as sandals or flip-flops You should not wear heels on a boat trip. It's nearly impossible to safely (or elegantly) navigate the narrow, steep stairways of even the most luxurious boats in heels.
  • Plenty of high-SPF, water-resistant sunscreen Most tours of the Galápagos Islands take place during the middle of the day, when the sun is at its peak strength due to Ecuador's location on the equator. In order to safeguard the islands' coral, local wildlife, and marine ecosystems, we advise investing in reef-safe sunscreen.
  • A brimmed hat to shield your face from the sun on shore excursions
  • Sun protection clothing worn while kayaking or snorkeling When the water is cooler, a wet suit will be provided. However, you may not need the bulky wet suit when the water temperature is higher.
Repellents for insects There may be times when you experience severe insect annoyance in the Galápagos, but I never did. The captains of the boats take great care to anchor in safe areas, so the seas are usually calm. If you get seasick easily, though, you might want to pack some Dramamine. Scopolamine patches and other prescription preventatives are also effective. One should be aware that scopolamine is typically not sold in Latin American countries. Feel free to bring along your favorite mask, fins, and snorkel if you plan on going snorkeling. Gear for snorkeling is provided, but it varies in terms of cleanliness and quality. An eco-friendly alternative to disposable plastic water bottles for daylong adventures. Protect your camera and yourself from the elements with rain gear. You can expect to ride in boats and dinghies, and rain is always a possibility. There is nowhere to take cover from the rain if you're out exploring an island when it starts to pour. Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal have ATMs, but they sometimes run out of money, so be sure to bring some extra cash with you. Shops and restaurants typically accept credit cards. A dollar (USD) is the legal tender in Ecuador. S dollar

Do not bring any food or plants to the Galápagos Islands, as the introduction of non-native plant species is a major environmental threat there. The bottoms of your shoes and any camping or outdoor equipment should be thoroughly washed and inspected for any seeds or spores before being brought to the islands. Visitors to the Galápagos are required to sign an affidavit upon arrival stating that they are not bringing in any food, animals, seeds, or dirty camping gear due to the high risk of introducing invasive plant species to the islands.

Image Source: Photon-Photos/Getty Images

Several times a day, flights leave from Quito and Guayaquil on mainland Ecuador for the Galápagos Islands. United States-bound flights S to both cities in great quantity Quito has more appealing accommodations, including a stunning colonial center that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978. You can easily spend a few days here, as there are more than enough museums, stores, and restaurants to keep you busy. Travelers from lower altitudes may experience difficulties in Quito due to the city's location at over 9,000 feet. Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador, is located at sea level, so residents there need not worry about the effects of high altitude. Guayaquil, on the other hand, has a significantly smaller variety of hotels and dining options.

The best hotel in all of Ecuador is Casa Gangotena, located on the recently renovated Plaza San Francisco in the heart of Quito's colonial center.

The San Marcos area's 10-room boutique hotel, Illa Experience Hotel, is another great option. The hotel occupies a converted mansion with colonial, republican, and contemporary themes represented across its various floors.

If you're looking for a place to eat in Ecuador, look no further than Zazu, as it is the country's sole Relais & Châteaux Zfood, the sister restaurant, is a more relaxed option, with an atmosphere reminiscent of a fish shack in the Hamptons and an emphasis on seafood. Their new takes on Bloody Marys are not to be missed.

Urko, led by chef/owner Daniel Maldonado, maintains a commitment to showcasing traditional Ecuadorian ingredients and flavors. To get a taste of what Maldonado calls "cocina local," order the tasting menu.

The elegant 44-room Hotel del Parque can be found in the city's leafy Parque Histórico. Dated 1891, the building has been renovated into a spa where clients can get massages in the bell tower.

There are two airports in the Galápagos Islands, so plan accordingly if you're arranging your own transportation from mainland Ecuador. There is an airport called San Cristóbal on the island of the same name. Baltra Island, which is connected to Santa Cruz Island by a channel, is home to Seymour Airport, which relies solely on renewable energy sources like the sun and the wind to operate. It's important to fly to the same island as your home base or the island from which your boat departs and returns.

Fees at national parks and reserves in Ecuador were eliminated in 2012 under former president Rafael Correa. However, the Galápagos National Park was not included in this waiver and still charges a $100 entrance fee per person, payable in cash only at either airport in the Galápagos Islands. An additional $20 transit card must be purchased by all tourists; this is to be paid in cash only at the airport. Also of note, in an effort to curb excessive tourism, Ecuadorian authorities are thinking about raising park entrance fees to $400 per person.


The Island of My Father by Johanna Angermeyer.

This 1998 book tells the story of the author's pioneer German ancestors who arrived on Santa Cruz Island. Their struggles and victories are inspiring and humbling, providing new insights into the Galápagos. The Angermeyer Waterfront Inn is owned and operated by Santa Cruz Island's surviving Angermeyer family.


The Galapagos Incident: When the Devil Visited Paradise

This documentary, which premiered in 2013, expertly weaves together archival footage, letters, and other sources to tell the story of a real-life murder mystery involving a self-proclaimed baroness, her lovers, and other settlers on Floreana Island in the 1930s. One of the lead characters is narrated by Cate Blanchett.


The book by Charles Darwin titled "On the Origin of Species."

While in the Galápagos, you will hear many references to this timeless work and its author. Find out more about Darwin's groundbreaking theory of evolution, which was influenced by his travels to and observations of the islands.

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